Riverdale started out as a small rural spot until the Grand Trunk Railway made its way to it in the 1850's. Development was slow until it was annexed in 1884 and accelerated when the Prince Edward Viaduct linked the community to the greater City of Toronto. The area formerly known as Riverside fell on some hard times in the 1970's but has recently rebounded to a thriving neighbourhood with a strong arts community; the grand houses that can be seen on some streets are a testament to more affluent times. The area was not the place to be in the 1970's but the recent rebound has attracted many younger families and young professionals.
North Riverdale has shaded tree-lined street with many homes in the Victorian and Edwardian period that sport pillared verandas ideal for summer days. There are also some examples of bay windows, gables and turrets in the homes that point to the Victorian period. North of the railway tracks, there are two and three-storey Victorian houses that date between 1880 and 1924. Most of the homes in the area have parking off rear laneways. North Riverdale is well-populated with schools: Riverdale and Eastdale are two high schools but there are many elementary schools such as Blake Street Jr. School, Pape Avenue Junior and Morse Junior. The area also has an elementary alternative school named Quest alternative.
While there are many parks in the area, the namesake Riverdale Park is the largest and most well-known; it centres around a replica of a real Victorian farm, complete with the necessary animals, including horses, cows, goats, ducks and chickens. It also has an outdoor pool and a running track. Withrow Park has a large off-leash dog area, two baseball diamonds, and ice rink and a soccer field. There are four public libraries in the area, offering a host of programs for all ages and the Pape Recreational Centre has a gymnasium and an indoor swimming pool. Just north on Queen St. East is the Royal Canadian Curling Club which features six sheets and hosts a five-hundred member league.
The best known area to shop in Riverdale is The Danforth; it's the heart of Toronto's Greek community and the place to go for first-class Greek dining and many different types of stores and boutiques. The area also has a smaller Chinatown district near Gerrard and Broadview, well-known for its bakeries, grocery and restaurants. Queen and Broadview village is the place to go if you are seeking antiques and collectibles and Gerrard Square is large indoor shopping mall that has over 70 stores.